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Friday, September 21, 2012

More Worst LDS Hymns (With Some Bests)

by LJ (bio)

A-Dub wrote this exceptional post about the worst hymns in the LDS Hymnbook. A-Dub, I add a respectful chunk of Worsts to your already excellent list (with one duplicate) and then throw in a few of what are, in my opinion, the Bests.

#307: In Our Lovely Deseret is a hymn my little brother ruined for me when we were in high school. One Sunday we were singing it in church and when it got to the first chorus, he looked over at me and started clapping his hands and barking like a seal in time with the "Hark! Hark! Hark!". I had tears running down my face by the time the song ended.

#285: God Moves in a Mysterious Way is one of the sad little hymns with some pretty good text and the most boring melody in the book. Click through for yourself and see.

#216: We Are Sowing stands out in my memory just because ... well, let me explain. My mom has an astounding memory in general, but I'm convinced she has the hymnbook memorized and has for the last 30 years. She sang the hymns around the house, working in the yard, on car trips and while rocking us when we were sick for hours. She loves them.

The first time I heard We Are Sowing was in one of my first Relief Society meetings as an 18-year-old, and when we got to the line "Seeds that sink in rich, brown furrows / Soft with heaven's gracious rain / Seeds that rest upon the surface / Of the dry, unyielding plain" I looked over at her with a massive eye roll and she returned it.

#232: Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words There was one time that we were having a family-wide shouting match and my brother Allen started singing this hymn, only to have my mom tell him to shut up. Well, the fight dissolved pretty quickly when we started dropping to the floor in laughter. I love this hymn for that memory, but put it in the worst camp just for the phrase "Like the warblings of birds on the heather." Warblings. Seriously.

Okay, on to the Best hymns. Best hymns have to fall within certain parameters for me: they have to be slightly unknown, mostly awesome, and someday worthy of a re-arrangement by Mack Wilberg of the MoTab. (Mack, if you're out there reading, Nathan Frost's little sister says hi.)

#80: God of Our Fathers, Known of Old is one that said brother Nathan made us all sit down and learn at a family reunion in 2005. None of us besides him had ever heard of it, and I have yet to meet someone who has. Text by Rudyard Kipling and I'm telling you, folks, it's a gem.

#82: For All the Saints is one that demands you sing it while standing at the prow of a ship or possibly over the Grand Canyon. The music is on lend from classical composer Ralph Vaughan Williams and it's another one that only gets trotted out for special occasions or "Sing an Obscure Hymn Sunday."

#111: Rock of Ages I loved Nancy R.'s comment about "cowboy hymns" in the original post. Well, this is one of those: I have a soft spot for good ol'-fashioned revival hymns and in my opinion, this is one of the best. Plus, Johnny Cash sang it, so it's extra legit.

#293: Each Life That Touches Ours for Good is one of those ones that occasionally makes it into a funeral program, but I like to sing it in the non-death-related times too. It's peaceful and sweet and (bonus!) short.

#335: Brightly Beams our Father's Mercy Guys, I'm a little bit bitter that this one got partitioned into the men's section of the hymnbook, mostly because it's in a weird-looking clef that throws pianists for a loop. But never fear, ladies! I had a friend at the BYU who told me that if you give the pianist the instructions to play Should You Feel Inclined to Censure (#235) with one extra verse, then we higher voices can enjoy it too.

Other honorable mentions for my favorites camp are the following. Please feel free to add your $0.02.

#41: Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise
#64: On This Day of Joy and Gladness
#72 Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
#102: Jesus, Lover of My Soul
#165: Abide with Me; 'Tis Eventide

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